Late Holocene geomorphic record of fire in ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests, Kendrick Mountain, northern Arizona, USA

Sara E. Jenkins, Carolyn Hull Sieg, Diana E. Anderson, Darrell S. Kaufman, Philip A. Pearthree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Long-term fire history reconstructions enhance our understanding of fire behaviour and associated geomorphic hazards in forested ecosystems. We used 14C ages on charcoal from fire-induced debris-flow deposits to date prehistoric fires on Kendrick Mountain, northern Arizona, USA. Fire-related debris-flow sedimentation dominates Holocene fan deposition in the study area. Radiocarbon ages indicate that stand-replacing fire has been an important phenomenon in late Holocene ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and ponderosa pine-mixed conifer forests on steep slopes. Fires have occurred on centennial scales during this period, although temporal hiatuses between recorded fires vary widely and appear to have decreased during the past 2000 years. Steep slopes and complex terrain may be responsible for localised crown fire behaviour through preheating by vertical fuel arrangement and accumulation of excessive fuels. Holocene wildfire-induced debris flow events occurred without a clear relationship to regional climatic shifts (decadal to millennial), suggesting that interannual moisture variability may determine fire year. Fire-debris flow sequences are recorded when (1) sufficient time has passed (centuries) to accumulate fuels; and (2) stored sediment is available to support debris flows. The frequency of reconstructed debris flows should be considered a minimum for severe events in the study area, as fuel production may outpace sediment storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 23 2011

Keywords

  • charcoal
  • crown fire
  • debris flows
  • fire history
  • terrain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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